Heat stored in the Earth system 1960–2020: Where does the energy go?

Type Article
Date 2023
Language English
Author(s) von Schuckmann Karina, Minère Audrey, Gues Flora, Cuesta-Valero Francisco JoséORCID, Kirchengast GottfriedORCID, Adusumilli Susheel, Straneo FiammettaORCID, Allan RichardORCID, Barker Paul M.ORCID, Beltrami HugoORCID, Boyer Tim, Cheng LijingORCID, Church John, Desbruyeres DamienORCID, Dolman HanORCID, Domingues Catia M.ORCID, García-García AlmudenaORCID, Giglio DonataORCID, Gilson John E.ORCID, Gorfer Maximilian, Haimberger LeopoldORCID, Hendricks StefanORCID, Hosoda Shigeki, Johnson Gregory C.ORCID, Killick RachelORCID, King BrianORCID, Kolodziejczyk Nikolas, Korosov AntonORCID, Krinner GerhardORCID, Kuusela MikaelORCID, Langer Moritz, Lavergne ThomasORCID, Lawrence IsobelORCID, Li Yuehua, Lyman John, Marzeion BenORCID, Mayer Michael, Macdougall Andrew H.ORCID, McDougall TrevorORCID, Monselesan Didier Paolo, Nitzbon JanORCID, Otosaka Inès, Peng JianORCID, Purkey Sarah, Roemmich Dean, Sato Kanako, Sato Katsunari, Savita Abhishek, Schweiger AxelORCID, Shepherd Andrew, Seneviratne Sonia I.ORCID, Simons Leon, Slater Donald A., Slater ThomasORCID, Smith NoahORCID, Steiner AndreaORCID, Suga Toshio, Szekely Tanguy, Thiery WimORCID, Timmermans Mary-Louise, Vanderkelen InneORCID, Wjiffels Susan E., Wu TonghuaORCID, Zemp MichaelORCID
Affiliation(s) Mercator Ocean International, Toulouse, France
CELAD, Toulouse, France
Department of Remote Sensing, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Leipzig, 04318, Germany
Wegener Center for Climate and Global Change and Institute of Physics, University of Graz, Graz, Austria
Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego, San Diego, California, USA
University of Reading, UK
University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
Climate & Atmospheric Sciences Institute and Department of Earth Sciences, St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, B2G 2W5, Canada
NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information, Silver Spring, Maryland, USA
Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
Center for Ocean Mega-Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Qingdao, 266071, China
Ifremer, University of Brest, CNRS, IRD, Laboratoire d'Océanographie Physique et Spatiale, Brest, France
Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, Den Burg, Texel, Netherlands
National Oceanographic Centre, Southampton, UK
University of Colorado, Boulder, USA
Center for Climate Systems Modeling, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
Department of Meteorology and Geophysics, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Germany
Japan Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC), Japan
NOAA, Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, Seattle, USA
Met Office Hadley Centre, Exeter, UK
University of Brest, CNRS, IRD, Ifremer, Laboratoire d'Océanographie Physique et Spatiale, IUEM, Brest, France
Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center, Norway
Institut des Géosciences de l’Environnement, CNRS, Université Grenoble Alpes, Grenoble, France
Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburg, USA
Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Permafrost Research Section, Potsdam, Germany
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Geography Department, Berlin, Germany
Norwegian Meteorological Institute, Norway
European Space Agency, ESRIN, Via Galileo Galilei, 1, 00044 Frascati RM, Italy
University of Bremen, Germany
European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), Reading, UK
Climate & Environment Program, St. Francis Xavier University Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada B2G 2W5
CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Paleoclimate Dynamics Section, Bremerhaven, Germany
Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling, University of Leeds, UK
Remote Sensing Centre for Earth System Research, Leipzig University, 04103, Leipzig, Germany
Japan Meteorological Agency, Japan
GEOMAR, Kiel, Germany
Polar Science Center, Applied Physics Laboratory, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA
Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, ETH Zurich, Zurich, 8092, Switzerland
The Club of Rome, The Netherlands Association, 's-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands
Glaciology and Oceanography, Univ. of Edinburgh, UK
Department of Mathematics, University of Exeter, Exeter, United Kingdom
Tohoku University, Japan
Ocean Scope, Brest, France
Department of Hydrology and Hydraulic Engineering, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, 1050, Belgium
Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts, USA
Cryosphere Research Station on Qinghai–Xizang Plateau, State Key Laboratory of Cryospheric Science, Northwest Institute of Eco–Environment and Resources (NIEER), Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Lanzhou, 730000, China
Department of Geography, University of Zurich, Switzerland
Département des sciences de la Terre et de l’atmosphère, Université du Québec à Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada
Source Earth System Science Data (1866-3516) (Copernicus GmbH), 2023 , Vol. 15 , N. 4 , P. 1675-1709
DOI 10.5194/essd-15-1675-2023

The Earth climate system is out of energy balance and heat has accumulated continuously over the past decades, warming the ocean, the land, the cryosphere and the atmosphere. According to the 6th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, this planetary warming over multiple decades is human-driven and results in unprecedented and committed changes to the Earth system, with adverse impacts for ecosystems and human systems. The Earth heat inventory provides a measure of the Earth energy imbalance, and allows for quantifying how much heat has accumulated in the Earth system, and where the heat is stored. Here we show that 380 ± 62 ZJ of heat has accumulated in the Earth system from 1971 to 2020, at a rate of 0.48 ± 0.1 W m−2, with 89 ± 17 % of this heat stored in the ocean, 6 ± 0.1 % on land, 4 ± 1 % in the cryosphere and 1 ± 0.2 % in the atmosphere. Over the most recent decade (2006–2020), the Earth heat inventory shows increased warming at rate of 0.48 ± 0.3 W m−2/decade, and the Earth climate system is out of energy balance by 0.76 ± 0.2 Wm−2. The Earth heat inventory is the most fundamental global climate indicator that the scientific community and the public can use as the measure of how well the world is doing in the task of bringing anthropogenic climate change under control. We call for an implementation of the Earth heat inventory into the Paris agreement’s global stocktake based on best available science. The Earth heat inventory in this study, updated from von Schuckmann et al, 2020, is underpinned by worldwide multidisciplinary collaboration and demonstrates the critical importance of concerted international efforts for climate change monitoring and community-based recommendations as coordinated by the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS). We also call for urgently needed actions for enabling continuity, archiving, rescuing and calibrating efforts to assure improved and long-term monitoring capacity of the relevant GCOS Essential Climate Variables (ECV) for the Earth heat inventory.

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von Schuckmann Karina, Minère Audrey, Gues Flora, Cuesta-Valero Francisco José, Kirchengast Gottfried, Adusumilli Susheel, Straneo Fiammetta, Allan Richard, Barker Paul M., Beltrami Hugo, Boyer Tim, Cheng Lijing, Church John, Desbruyeres Damien, Dolman Han, Domingues Catia M., García-García Almudena, Giglio Donata, Gilson John E., Gorfer Maximilian, Haimberger Leopold, Hendricks Stefan, Hosoda Shigeki, Johnson Gregory C., Killick Rachel, King Brian, Kolodziejczyk Nikolas, Korosov Anton, Krinner Gerhard, Kuusela Mikael, Langer Moritz, Lavergne Thomas, Lawrence Isobel, Li Yuehua, Lyman John, Marzeion Ben, Mayer Michael, Macdougall Andrew H., McDougall Trevor, Monselesan Didier Paolo, Nitzbon Jan, Otosaka Inès, Peng Jian, Purkey Sarah, Roemmich Dean, Sato Kanako, Sato Katsunari, Savita Abhishek, Schweiger Axel, Shepherd Andrew, Seneviratne Sonia I., Simons Leon, Slater Donald A., Slater Thomas, Smith Noah, Steiner Andrea, Suga Toshio, Szekely Tanguy, Thiery Wim, Timmermans Mary-Louise, Vanderkelen Inne, Wjiffels Susan E., Wu Tonghua, Zemp Michael (2023). Heat stored in the Earth system 1960–2020: Where does the energy go? Earth System Science Data, 15(4), 1675-1709. Publisher's official version : https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-15-1675-2023 , Open Access version : https://archimer.ifremer.fr/doc/00787/89860/